Live, Online Doctor Appointments with Minnesota Physicians Offer a New Kind of Convenience During Holidays

Dec 17, 2010, 09:55 ET from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Online Care Anywhere® from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota provides real-time access to doctors – with no wait times – to all Minnesotans

EAGAN, Minn., Dec. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For those too busy this holiday season to drive to their regular doctor for an expired prescription or stop by a walk-in clinic with a nagging cough, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) can help. Through Online Care Anywhere, a virtual clinic offered by Blue Cross, all Minnesotans now have immediate access to medical advice from local health care professionals, right at their fingertips – at onlinecareanywheremn.com.

"Online Care Anywhere, which is open to everyone in Minnesota, is a perfect solution for people looking for medical advice and needing more convenience – especially on holidays when other clinics are closed," said Pamela Sedmak, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer for Blue Cross. "It's great for moms that are too short on time to get in for an office visit, or families with visiting friends and relatives that forgot to have a prescription refilled, or if you're stuck at home in a blizzard."

"I was able to see a doctor immediately for my annual bout of bronchitis," said Julie Swanson, a resident of Burnsville and repeat user of Online Care Anywhere. "Typically during flu and cold season, it takes me at least a week to schedule a traditional office visit. By then, I've been suffering physically, and I've missed work time. With Online Care Anywhere, I had a local physician evaluate my condition and write a prescription literally minutes after logging on. It doesn't replace my regular doctor, but Online Care Anywhere is a great option for those times when I can't re-arrange my life around a trip to the clinic."

The service is modeled after a traditional doctor's office visit and is staffed by experienced physicians and nurse practitioners licensed and practicing in Minnesota. Through the availability of a web cam, individuals can have a face-to-face conversation with a health care provider, or they can access the service via phone. Individuals do not need to be a Blue Cross member to use Online Care Anywhere.

"The reality of life is that sometimes you don't have time to schedule an appointment," said Pamela Sedmak. "Online Care Anywhere lets you step to the front of the line and literally be seen moments after you first think about seeing a doctor. You can discuss your symptoms, get a quick diagnosis and prescription for common illnesses, such as bronchitis or a sinus infection. Or, you can seek advice about sensitive medical situations, or questions about monitoring care for chronic illnesses, as well as questions about preventive and wellness care."

To safeguard consumers' privacy and protect their health and financial identity information, the Online Care Anywhere site is built with multiple layers of security, and is fully compliant with the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Among other security precautions, providers can review patient clinical information only with explicit consent, and patients always decide and control what information to share (if any) with their primary care physician. Online Care Anywhere, powered by American Well™, Inc., is connected with HealthVault™, Microsoft's online consumer health platform allowing consumers to privately maintain their personal health information.

The doctors are online Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and during holidays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $45 for a doctor's visit. Credit and debit cards are accepted.

For more information and specific questions and concerns, go to onlinecareanywheremn.com or call 877-515-9990.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to bluecrossmn.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota



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